Montrose is the fourth chapter of Samuel Johnson's book Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, about a trip he took in 1773. The previous chapter was Aberbrothick and the next is Aberdeen.
Leaving these fragments of magnificence
, we travelled on to
, which we surveyed in the morning
, and found it well
, and clean
. The townhouse
is a handsome fabrick
. We then went to view the English chapel
, and found a
to a degree unknown
in any other part of
, with commodious
galleries, and what was yet less
expected, with an organ
At our inn we did not find a reception such as we thought
proportionate to the commercial opulence of the place; but Mr.
Boswell desired me to observe that the innkeeper was an Englishman,
and I then defended him as well as I could.
When I had proceeded thus far, I had opportunities of observing
what I had never heard, that there are many beggars in Scotland.
In Edinburgh the proportion is, I think, not less than in London,
and in the smaller places it is far greater than in English towns
of the same extent. It must, however, be allowed that they are not
importunate, nor clamorous. They solicit silently, or very
modestly, and therefore though their behavior may strike with more
force the heart of a stranger, they are certainly in danger of
missing the attention of their countrymen. Novelty has always some
power, an unaccustomed mode of begging excites an unaccustomed
degree of pity. But the force of novelty is by its own nature soon
at an end; the efficacy of outcry and perseverance is permanent and
The road from Montrose exhibited a continuation of the same
appearances. The country is still naked, the hedges are of stone,
and the fields so generally plowed that it is hard to imagine where
grass is found for the horses that till them. The harvest, which
was almost ripe, appeared very plentiful.
Early in the afternoon Mr. Boswell observed that we were at no
great distance from the house of Lord Monboddo. The magnetism of
his conversation easily drew us out of our way, and the
entertainment which we received would have been a sufficient
recompense for a much greater deviation.
The roads beyond Edinburgh, as they are less frequented, must be
expected to grow gradually rougher; but they were hitherto by no
means incommodious. We travelled on with the gentle pace of a
Scotch driver, who having no rivals in expedition, neither gives
himself nor his horses unnecessary trouble. We did not affect the
impatience we did not feel, but were satisfied with the company of
each other as well riding in the chaise, as sitting at an inn. The
night and the day are equally solitary and equally safe; for where
there are so few travellers, why should there be robbers.